More pubs could be set to add library services to their roster under radical proposals currently being considered by ministers.
The Future Library Programme, instigated by Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey last year to support libraries through the financial crisis, is focused on ensuring libraries maintain a central role for communities.
However, with local authorities having to save millions of pounds this year, a number of libraries have been forced to close, and pubs have been touted as an alternative setting for frustrated readers.
Ed Vaizey, the culture minister, has written to all councils setting out ideas from the Future Libraries Programme in the hope that the tide of closures can be reversed.
Chris White, chair of Hertforshire County Council's Culture, Tourism and Sport Programme Board, backed the idea of pubs expanding the services that they offer.
"We are very pro-pubs on the grounds that they are the last remaining public facility in villages and suburban areas — a place where people can consume alcohol in a controlled and supervised environment.
"You can see in places like Ireland how pubs are used effectively as shops and post offices to retain their identities, and it makes sense.
"The pubs which will survive are the ones that will offer something different other than beer or wine.
"I know a village in Herefordshire which has never had a village shop as long as I have known it but a pub there is opening one as part of its premises. I do not see why library services are any different."
John Longden, chief executive of Pub is the Hub, added: "People can't afford libraries in rural areas and the only place surviving in the local area is the pub.
"Some pubs are already running a loaning service whereby people give old books to the pub and people will come and take them out for 50p, then this money will go to charity.
"Of course, with the library closures occurring at the moment, the question will be asked whether or not pubs can take on their role — but we will continue to wholeheartedly support libraries."